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Thesis Advisory Committee

All IMPRS-APS students are expected to meet with their advisor and an independent secondary advisor at regular intervals (six months into the research work and yearly thereafter, increasing in frequency to every six months after the third meeting), to discuss their progress towards the successful completion of their studies. During this meeting, the student gives a short presentation of his or her progress and an discusses with the panel the expected route to the finalized thesis. This should be followed by a discussion of the points laid out in the report formula. The student should then fill out the report formula, have it signed by the advisor and secondary advisor (and optional co-advisor, i.e. a senior scientist or post-doc who is responsible for the student), and return it to the IMPRS coordinators.

Information and Frequency Asked Questions about your TAC

Definition of terms:

Advisor: Your PhD advisor
Co-advisor: In some of the larger research groups, a group leader of a smaller number of people is often responsible for the closer supervision of the students; this is that person. It is not mandatory to have a co-advisor!
Secondary advisor: Someone independent from the advisor who can provide an objective assessment of your progress.

Who is eligible to be a secondary advisor? Does it have to be a professor?
The most important thing is that the secondary advisor is independent from your advisor and have a strong understanding of the science relevant to your research, enough to confidently discuss the material and provide constructive criticism. He/she does not have to be a professor, but should be a senior scientist whose PhD students work independently from you (i.e. he/she has his/her own Promotionsrecht, or is not directly involved in your research work). If in any case it is unclear, please feel free to contact the coordinator(s).

How do I find a secondary advisor?
A good place to start if you don't have any persons in mind would be to consult with your advisor/co-advisor, as well as the other students in your research group. Please also feel free to contact the coordinator(s) for suggestions, and don't be shy about asking other IMPRS students for advice, as well.

When should I form the committee?
Within six months of starting in the IMPRS-APS. The TAC should meet yearly during your doctoral research, and therefore your first meeting should take place before the end of your first year. Don't underestimate the difficulty in getting an appointment suitable for everyone involved! By the end of six months, you should inform the IMPRS coordinators of your secondary advisor(s).

What should I prepare for the TAC meeting?
You should have a short presentation about your research work, detailing the motivation and goals, current results, next steps, and the prospectives and challenges for completion of the project, as well as the status of your work toward fulfilling the academic portion of the IMPRS program requirements. The heart of the meeting is a candid discussion of your project, so you should provide the necessary background information and facts about the status.

Do I have to have a yearly TAC meeting?

What should I do with the completed TAC form?
Return it to the IMPRS office, either the physical version or a scan. If you are scanning it, please keep the original safe!

Is it possible to have a meeting with only my co-advisor and secondary advisor?
Yes, although keep in mind that in the end, it is your principal advisor who needs to sign your thesis, so he/she should be informed about the contents of the meeting and should still sign the completed TAC form, after being given the chance to comment on the contents and add to the recommendations.

What if my advisor and co-advisor refuse to have a TAC meeting?
Come talk to the coordinator(s). The IMPRS faculty is obliged to have these meetings with their students. Since such a situation indicates more severe problems in the communication between student and advisor(s), we recommend that you immediately contact us on how to solve the situation.